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Everyone knows the basics of saving money. Stop eating out, cancel cable, buy things second-hand, and the many host of other stock tips for keeping your cash in your pocket. However, there are still a lot of other things that you can do that you probably didn’t know could save you money.
Let’s take a look at what they are…
Unsubscribe from department store emailing lists.
I don’t know a single major retailer who doesn’t have an email list, and for good reason. In most cases, when you’re on an email list, you’re getting those salesy emails day in and day out. With some stores like Walmart, you could be getting 3-4 emails DAILY all asking you to buy something.
Sure, at first, you might not buy it, but seeing those ads for things you like (because most people only subscribe to stores or brands they already enjoy), you’re going to be even more likely to buy that thing that you don’t really need, just want.
Checking the App Store subscriptions on your smart phone could save you money.
Sometimes those pesky subscriptions have ways of popping up when you least expect it. There are many apps that only charge once every six months or a year, so if you’ve signed up for one in the past and forgotten about it, it could show up on your next credit card statement. There are other apps that are even worse – those ones where you put your card information in for your 14-day free trial. They rarely ever give a refund.
Delete saved credit card info on your computer or phone.
When you have your card info saved on sites like amazon, or even just on your computer, it makes it a lot easier to cave into the online impulse buys.
There’s just something about having to get up from your comfy spot on the couch, walk all the way to your purse, get your credit card, type it in, put it away. Well, it takes just enough effort and thought that you have enough time to reassess if you really need that extra pair of boots or painting you see online.
Spending less time on social media could save you money.
Social media is ripe with not only pictures and posts about everyone’s purchase of the new, latest and greatest, but it’s also full of ads. And not just any ads. Smart ads.
Smart ads are catered to you and your search history. Looking for new living room furniture? Get ready to see nothing but ads for couches. There is tons of information about these types of targeted ads out there, and I’ll be honest, sometimes it can get a little creepy.
Drink more water and keep a water bottle on your person.
This one is kind of like a 2-for-1. Water, especially if you don’t mind tap water, is literally the cheapest thing you can drink. Cutting back just one can of soda a day, if you’re buying them independently, can easily save you over $400 a year. Cutting back on your daily soda intake will save you far more than cutting out a $2 coffee five days a week (though that’s a good thing to try and cut back on as well).
Furthermore, when you start carrying a water bottle with you everywhere, you’re not going to be getting near as many as those drinks in the checkout lanes at grocery stores and places like Walmart that can easily cost you up to $4 a drink.
Oddly enough, it’ll probably also help you with the eating-out impulse too. There’s actually a lot of research that has been done, proving that it is extremely common for thirst signals to be misconstrued as signs that you’re hungry. By staying more hydrated, you’ll get less of these mix-ups and fewer urges to hit the Mcdonald’s drive-thru while you’re out and about.
Pay attention to the number of transactions you’ve made.
Do you know how many transactions you can have a month before your bank starts charging you? Many banks actually have limits and will often charge anywhere from $1 to $5 for every transaction over your set amount. This isn’t so much a problem with credits cards as it is debit cards, and thankfully some banks are starting to phase this out. But with many big branches, you have a limit of ten transactions, or you pay a higher monthly fee for your bank account.
Fortunately, there are some online banks that are starting to open where they have fewer fees and no limits. Services like KOHO in Canada, where it’s just a reloadable credit card, has all the advantages of a debit card and a credit card put together. (P.S. If you’re in Canada and sign up for KOHO, use the referral code WHSYMF56 to get $20 after your first purchase!)
Using your calendar to keep track of bills could save you money.
I started doing this one a few months ago, and honestly, it has helped so much. Thankfully, most of my monthly bills are able to be an auto-withdraw, but not all of them, and even then, some come out of different accounts.
When I started keeping better track of what bills came out when not only was I able to start saving a lot of those late payments (that dinged my credit score too), but I also wasn’t getting charged NSF Fees (Non-sufficient Fund Fees), which are on average $50 apiece in Canada. Not to mention the fee that I’d regularly find charged from my bill service for having a payment bounce.
If this is you, you’re not alone. Not even close. The average American household actually spends over $500 a year on fees just like these.
Switch to at-home workouts or find a workout buddy.
Ah, the gym. That place we all sign up for the first of January, only go to a handful of times (if that), and then, we still wind up paying for 6+ months, telling ourselves we’ll really start going next week. Honestly, you’re better off doing home workouts or finding a walking/running buddy. At least until you get to the point where you would use the gym enough to make it worth it.
I’m not saying gyms are horrible. Not by any means! I’ve had gym memberships before and used them frequently, but if you’re not doing going frequently, or money is tight, try switching to online classes instead. There are a million on YouTube!
Use rewards/points cards.
Do you collect points? Many retailers, such as grocery stores, department stores, and gas stations all have point systems, most of which are free. If it’s not free, I don’t bother, but even if you only shop somewhere once a month, it doesn’t hurt to collect points.
Here in Canada, we have a system called P.C. Optimum that works at grocery stores, gas stations, and one of our biggest chains of drug stores. I’ve been collecting their points for years, and I’m smart about it.
In the past month, I’ve actually been able to collect and redeem $20 in free groceries. That’s as a single person with a 20-minute commute to work. I didn’t change my spending in any way. It literally was just free money for being a loyal customer to that chain. When I was doing the shopping for a house with me and a handful of roommates, we were getting almost $20 every week. It really can add up.
Use a calculator when shopping.
Something that’s helped me most with my budget while shopping is using my calculator. When I put something in the cart, I add the price to my calculator, and I don’t go over my limit. If I reach it and still need things, I’ll put something back.
If you have kiddos who go shopping with you, give them the calculator. Not only can you turn shopping into a game this way, but it’s a good way to start teaching them about money management and math all in one. It also has the side bonus of distracting them and making them less likely to ask for everything they see.
Put items on hold.
Have you ever gone shopping and seen something that you don’t need, not even one bit, but you really want? You’re standing in the aisle, hemming and hawing, trying to decide if you should get it or not. You know you don’t need it, but you really like it. You’re sure you could find some use or occasion for it.
For me, this was fancy dresses – I’m talking ball gowns. So, you buy the thing. Then, it sits in the back of a closet for a year, never having been used once. Sound familiar? I know I’ve done it.
Something that really helped me here was asking the cashier to put it on hold for me. Most places will only do this until the end of the day, but it’s perfect. If you really want that thing, put it on hold, then leave the store. Go home, make dinner, go get groceries, go for a walk – anything. Just go do something else for at least a few hours.
Now, think back to that item you put on hold. Is it really worth it to drive all the way back to the store to get it? The answer is probably not. With less pressure about buying at that moment and having time to think it through, you could probably save yourself hundreds, if not thousands a year. I know I do.
Use reusable shopping bags.
Many stores these days charge you for those paper bags or plastic bags you’re probably just going to throw out anyway when you get home. By switching to reusable, not only is it better for the environment, but it’s better for your wallet too.
(Pro Tip: After emptying the reusable grocery bags, put them back in your car right away or in front of your door to put in your car the next time you go out. It makes it a lot harder to forget them at home when they’re always in your car.)
Get a basket or smaller cart.
Have you ever gone grocery shopping with the intention to only get 1 or 2 things, and 30 minutes later, you have a cart overflowing with food? Well, it’s a lot harder to do that if all you have is a basket or a small cart. The less you can carry, the less you’re likely to buy.
As a single person, I almost exclusively use small carts. When I don’t, I spend way more. It’s just that need to fill up empty space. (Fun fact, this tip actually can help with eating less too. Try switching to a smaller plate, and you’re likely to eat much less without even realizing or going hungry.) This could save you money you never really needed to spend in the first place.
Get rain checks.
This is something I only discovered about a year ago, but I’m so happy I did. When something goes on sale for dirt cheap at the store (say the supersized 12-pack bock of Kraft Dinner Mac and Cheese for half price, or that awesome barbeque you’ve had your eye on), but the store sells out, ask for a rain check at the customer service desk. Most places will provide them, and once the item is back in stock, even if it’s not on sale anymore, you’ll still be able to get it at the sale price.
Eating less meat could save you money.
Meat these days is outrageously priced. Incorporating things like “Meatless Mondays” and subbing something high-protein like beans or lentils can save you a fortune. I find that when I make meals like casseroles or soups, I can be just as satisfied with half the amount of meat as well since there are small pieces in most bites.
Don’t eliminate everything that makes you happy.
At the end of the day, it’s really easy to be tempted to give up everything. People want to convince themselves they need to go completely cold-turkey, saying they’ll never spend money on themselves again. Don’t do it, though.
While I definitely don’t promote dropping $300 on video games or clothes every week, I do think it’s important to do something, even something small, for yourself every once in a while. When we go to extremes, sometimes we slingshot back and spend worse than others on an impulse. So, even if it’s just $10 at the dollar store once a month. Make sure you do things that make you happy too.
There are plenty of things that can save you money you likely haven’t thought about.
Spending money is a part of life. Unfortunately, overspending often is as well. But there are many things that can save you money you probably have never thought about. The above list is just to get the gears turning in your mind. What else can you do to cut back on expenses? Do you have any other tips that could save you money?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
About Chloe Morgan
Chloe Morgan grew up living with a tight budget. In her late teens and early 20’s all the lessons she’d learned started to slip, like it does for many college age students on their own for the first time, and with their first credit card. As she’s gotten older, she’s started to deal with the repercussions and has taken on a frugal way of living, keeping her costs low, as she pays off debt and saves for her future. Chloe lives in Northern Ontario, Canada, with her cute dog, Rhea.